Here’s a toast-worthy trend that just might stick: Nutrition experts are increasingly looking beyond trusty old peanut butter and going nuts for other sorts of protein-rich nut and seed spreads – sunflower butter, sesame butter and more. (SB&J? Why not?)
“When it comes to nut and seed butters, variety is the spice of life!” says San Diego-based nutrition coach, registered dietitian and culinary nutritionist EA Stewart, MBA, RD at The Spicy RD. Healthy Eats asked Stewart to share her thoughts about the incredible spreadable trend:
How do seed and other nut butters compare nutritionally to trusty old peanut butter?
While all nuts and seeds contain heart-healthy fats and fiber, each nut and seed is unique in its nutrition profile, so it’s a good idea to include a variety of them in our diets. For instance, macadamia nuts are very high in monounsaturated fats, while flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts are the highest in omega-3 fats. Almonds and hazelnuts are an excellent source of vitamin E, while pumpkin and other seeds are rich in magnesium, a nutrient many of us fall short on. Bottom line: Enjoy a wide variety of nut, seed and legume (peanuts) butters in your diet to get the greatest nutrient bang for your buck. The only potential downside is to keep portion control in mind, as nut and seed butters are a concentrated source of calories, and it’s easy to go overboard.
Why do you think seed butters and non-peanut nut butters are currently in vogue? And do you think the trend will last?
Now that we have the go-ahead to include more healthy fats in our diet, nut and seed butters are a delicious way to incorporate these mono and polyunsaturated fats. Nut and seed butters are also low in carbohydrates. Plus they’re a staple for many of today’s popular diets, including Mediterranean, vegan, and paleo diets. As more manufacturers jump on the “alternative nut and seed butter wagon,” I think it’s a trend that’s definitely here to stay!
What are some of the seed and nut butters you think people should try?
While peanut butter and almond butter will never be out of vogue, I’m a huge fan of cashew nut butter, as well as pecan and walnut butters. In addition, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds butters are delicious options for people with peanut or tree nut allergies.
What is the best way for people to eat seed and nut butters?
Um, let’s start with straight off the spoon! Dietitian mom confession time: Sometimes when I’m pressed for time in the afternoon, right before I pick my kids up from school and start the afternoon shuttle service to sports and other activities, and I know it’s several hours until dinner, I will dip my spoon into a jar of nut butter and know that I’ll be full and energized until dinner. Aside from that, nut and seed butters pair perfectly with fruit (apple and banana slices) and whole grains (bread, crackers and tortillas), and are great blended into a smoothie. When my sweet tooth hits, I like to sprinkle a few chocolate chips on a spoonful of nut or seed butter for a healthy treat.
How can people get their hands on seed and non-peanut nut butters?
While more and more grocery stores are carrying a variety of nut and seed butters these days, it’s so easy to make your own, and quite a bit less expensive too. A couple of ideas to try:
- Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Butter: Combine walnuts, sea salt, maple syrup and cinnamon in a food processor until smooth. Stir in raisins.
- Vanilla Maple Pecan Butter: Combine pecans, sea salt, maple syrup and vanilla in a food processor until smooth.
Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. Her work has appeared in publications including The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Glamour and Marie Claire, as well as Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer. In addition to contributing to Healthy Eats, she blogs for Food Network’s FN Dish.
*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.